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CANON R8 REVIEW: Cinematic Beast or Shaky Disaster?

I recently had the chance to test out Canon’s R8, a new entry in their impressive line-up of cameras. Here, I will take you through an in-depth review of its performance from a videographer’s perspective, going into the nitty-gritty of its various features.

Video Quality: Full-Frame, Full-Width 6K Sensor Readout

When it comes to video quality, the Canon R8 doesn’t disappoint. It’s one of just a few full-frame cameras that offer full-width 4K recording at up to 60 frames per second. What’s unique is that this isn’t just standard 4K. It’s oversampled from a full-width 6K sensor readout in 10bit 422. The outcome is a much higher level of detail and sharpness in your footage. Even if you’re filming fast-moving subjects or want to slow your footage down, the quality remains consistent.

The 10-bit color depth provides more nuanced gradients and a broader color palette compared to 8-bit footage, giving you the flexibility to push your color grading further in post-production without the footage breaking down. In essence, the video quality of the Canon R8 mirrors that of the Canon R6 Mark II, delivering crisp, high-quality.

Dynamic Range: 12 Stops with CLOG3

As for dynamic range, the Canon R8 offers 12 stops of dynamic range in CLOG3. While this isn’t groundbreaking compared to some of the other modern cameras on the market, it’s enough to capture detailed and visually pleasing shots. With 12 stops of dynamic range, you’re able to capture a decent amount of detail in both highlights and shadows.

However, bear in mind that other cameras on the market may offer higher dynamic range, so the Canon R8 might not be the first choice for situations requiring extreme high dynamic range.

Video Quality and Dynamic Range: Delivering as Expected

To sum it up, the Canon R8’s video capabilities are impressive in the context of its class. The 4K recording up to 60fps oversampled from a full-width 6K sensor readout is a standout feature, resulting in high-quality, detailed footage. While its dynamic range isn’t necessarily the best, the 12 stops offered when shooting in CLOG3 are sufficient for most shooting scenarios, producing footage that is both detailed and pleasing to the eye. In terms of video quality, the Canon R8 matches the performance of the Canon R6 Mark II, making it a reliable choice for videographers who prioritize video quality and appreciate the benefits of a full-frame camera at a pretty low price point.

Autofocus: Maintaining Canon’s High Standards

The autofocus of Canon cameras has always been top-notch, and the R8 doesn’t disappoint. The Canon R8’s focus tracking makes for a convenient and reliable shooting experience for videographers.

The Eye Autofocus in particular, stands out. It’s quick, accurate, and efficient, even under dimly lit conditions. This is incredibly helpful in videography, where maintaining consistent focus on a moving subject can make all the difference. For static shots, the Spot AF also does an excellent job, enabling precise focus on small objects without a hitch. However, I would still rate Canons autofocus slightly behind Sony as you might have to tweak the settings a bit for best performance and the touch-tracking feature is often unreliable.

Stabilization: A Mix of Hits and Misses

Stabilization is a critical feature for videographers and Canon R8 performs well on this front, with a few caveats. It’s worth noting that the R8 doesn’t have inbuilt sensor stabilization, hence it relies on optically stabilized lenses. It may be slightly less stable than the R6 Mark II and R5 when shooting at longer focal lengths. However, this difference is not night-and-day, and the footage obtained from the R8 is still entirely usable.

Interestingly, the lack of sensor stabilization brings an advantage when it comes to shooting at wider focal lengths, such as 15mm. The R6 Mark II and R5 are known to introduce noticeable wobble in the corners when shooting at these focal lengths – an issue I didn’t encounter with the Canon R8. This makes the R8 an ideal choice for vloggers shooting at wider angles.

Vlogging: Tailoring to Your Needs

In terms of vlogging, the Canon R8 offers substantial control over your footage stability. When vlogging at 15mm with only the lens stabilization active, the footage wasn’t perfectly stable but certainly usable. The option to combine optical image stabilization with electronic image stabilization can make a visible difference, although this introduces a crop. The enhanced electronic image stabilization crops even more, but results in incredibly smooth footage. While I found the crop to be too much for vlogging, it could be a useful feature for b-roll or specific shooting scenarios.

Battery Life and Overheating: An Acceptable Performance

Examining the Canon R8’s battery life, it wasn’t the most impressive, lasting between one hour and five minutes to one hour and ten minutes. As a result, you might find yourself needing to change batteries more often than you’d like. However, with the additional purchase of affordable third-party batteries, this issue can be managed effectively.

Overheating is an area where the Canon R8 doesn’t seem to have major problems. Even after prolonged shooting in a warm environment (25-28 °C), the camera didn’t overheat. Even during a shoot under real-life conditions (on and off shooting), in a factory, only using fans and no air conditioning, while it’s been 38 °C outside, shooting in 4K 60 fps didn’t cause any overheating issues. The temperature-meter turned on but turned off again over time and it wasn’t even close to overheating at all.

Lenses: A Matter of Investment

The Canon R8, priced at $1500, makes an appealing proposition for those entering the Canon ecosystem, despite the potentially higher cost of lenses. Canon’s F4 lenses, especially the 24 to 105mm and 70 to 200mm, offer excellent quality and versatility. For a budget-conscious videographer, it might seem a significant investment initially. However, the overall image and video quality they produce make it a worthwhile consideration.

24 to 105mm F4 lens: The All-Rounder

The 24 to 105mm F4 lens is a good all-around performer, and it’s fantastic for a variety of shooting scenarios. It delivers sharp footage, and I found it to be a versatile addition to my videography gear. The focal length range is wide enough for most purposes, and the constant F4 aperture is beneficial for consistency while zooming during a shot.

70 to 200mm F4 lens: Zooming into Details

If you frequently need to shoot from a distance or capture detailed close-ups, the 70 to 200mm F4 lens can be an ideal addition. The quality of the footage I captured with this lens was exceptional, and it paired well with the R8.

Conclusion: A Solid Choice for Videographers

To wrap it up, the Canon R8 is a strong contender in the market, especially for videographers on the lookout for a budget full-frame camera that doesn’t compromise on performance. While it might not revolutionize your shooting experience, the R8 delivers a consistently high level of performance, what I did not expect at this pricepoint.

The autofocus system is reliable, and while sensor-stabilization is missing on this camera, it is definitely usable and performs decent at wider focal lengths. The balance between price, features, and performance makes the Canon R8 an appealing option, especially when factoring in the quality of Canon’s lenses.

For anyone looking to upgrade their videography gear or enter the full-frame market, the Canon R8 is definitely worth considering.

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